The Apprentice 2022: Reigate star reveals her green business goals

Francesca has ambitious plans for the future of her businesses

Francesca has ambitious plans for the future of her businesses - Credit: Francesca Kennedy Wallbank

Our star of The ApprenticeFrancesca Kennedy Wallbank, 27, shares her take on the other candidates, plans for growing her green businesses and why she couldn’t imagine living anywhere else than Surrey

The latest series of BBC One’s The Apprentice brought all the drama to the boardroom with Harpreet Kaur being crowned the winner, receiving a £250,000 investment and a business partnership with Lord Alan Sugar.
Before the final aired, our Surrey star Francesca Kennedy Wallbank, who exited in week five, had singled out Harpreet as a frontrunner in the show – ‘she’s very clever, gets the job done and is someone who’s a strong leader you want to be around so I can imagine her being very successful’ – and revealed that she especially liked working with Nick and Brittany – ‘we had fun’.
Francesca was taking part in the hope of securing a hefty investment for her company, The Carbon Footprint Co, and although she was naturally deflated not to go the distance, she bounced back quickly and is now raring to go again. 
‘I’m quite a serious person but I had to realise this was a TV show,’ she says. ‘I’ve watched it since I was young and have always looked up to the show. I really was going in there to get the investment. I wanted to put myself forward for everything and just be the best I could.
‘Some of the other candidates wrote on Instagram that they’d like to work with me and that, to me, is the biggest compliment. So that’s how I got over it,’ she says. ‘I’m not letting it define me as a person in business, even though I would have loved to have gone further of course as I genuinely enjoyed taking part. How often in life do you get to not have your phone and just focus on one task for the whole day? It was so nice to only have one vision to think about. I loved the feeling of being really focused.’ 

Francesca with Karren Brady, a long-serving aide of Lord Sugar on The Apprentice

Francesca with Karren Brady, a long-serving aide of Lord Sugar on The Apprentice - Credit: H2OSQD Ltd

‘Lord Sugar called me a hero for getting the most sales in the fishing task, which didn’t make it into the final cut,’ she reveals. ‘Compliments in the boardroom are rare so I’ll take that away with me for a long time.’ 
It’s a fitting sentiment as, aged 16 at Reigate School, her classmates voted her ‘most likely to be Lord Sugar’s replacement’. 
She studied Maths at Loughborough University – a topic she enjoys, not just because ‘maths and business go hand in hand'.  
‘I was told from a young age that I should be doing business – I kind of have that brain,’ she says. ‘I come from quite a long line of entrepreneurs. My grandad had a care home in East Grinstead and my dad had a photography company taking pictures of graduates. I worked for him, running graduations for 800 people when I was 18. He threw me in at the deep and I learned a lot from that.’ 
After university, Francesca joined the Unilever Future Leaders Programme, learning the ropes of big business for three years, and still carries out projects for the company today. ‘I think it’s important to stick with a big organisation and learn from that,’ she explains.  
At the end of the programme, however, she turned down a promotion to spend a year travelling with her twin sister, returning to the UK just as the pandemic hit. 
‘While we were travelling, we noticed how difficult cylindrical waters bottles could be to fit into our bags and keep hold of while we were out and about. I thought how much more convenient it would be to have a flat bottle that would slot easily into a shoulder bag,’ she says.  
After informally approaching ramblers in Surrey about the idea to get their opinion, she launched H2OSQD, a brand of flat, personalised water bottles. 
‘I found a supplier, had samples created, took photos, put them on Etsy and sold them as pre-orders. With this money, I then bought a big bulk and that’s how it started,’ she says. 

The plan is for H2OSQD to produce carbon negative products in the future

The plan is for H2OSQD to produce carbon negative products in the future - Credit: Francesca Kennedy Wallbank

All the packaging is recycled, recyclable and biodegradable, purchases are hand-delivered on bicycle within a five-mile radius, and a tree is planted in a Surrey school for every bottle sold. The company is carbon neutral and Francesca hopes it will go on to produce carbon negative products in the future.
To get to this point, Francesca analysed the carbon footprint of the product – each one is equivalent to the energy used for a five-minute shower – and how to best offset it, which is exactly the service offered by The Carbon Footprint Co.  

Francesca informally polled Surrey ramblers while out on walks to see if her idea for a flat water bottle may take off

Francesca informally polled Surrey ramblers while out on walks to see if her idea for a flat water bottle may take off - Credit: Jack Kennedy

‘I help businesses become more carbon neutral and to understand all the factors that influence that,’ she says. ‘We follow guidelines set by Europe, with a step-by-step process verified by a carbon neutral charity. The service is popular among start-ups and food and beverage companies,' she says.

Script Flat Personalised Water Bottle 380ml, £24.99

Script Flat Personalised Water Bottle 380ml, £24.99 - Credit: H2OSQD Ltd

‘I’m still looking for investors – someone who is interested in green living and sustainability, like Deborah Meaden. I’d like to bring on more consultants covering different parts of the UK, as well as full-time sales people reaching out to new companies. The aim is to have 50 companies on our books by the end of 2023, growing it year-on-year and having a retention rate of 80 per cent, as you need to be reverified every year.’ 
A passion for sustainability runs in the family. Her dad now runs an electric car charging business and recently built a bespoke a green home in the county.  
‘My mum has always been very eco-conscious too,’ she says. ‘We’d only use the oven to cook larger meals for all the family and were careful about switching on the lights and heating only when necessary. The experience led me to be really conscious about the environment and not to over-use things. A lot of my clothes are hand-me-downs or vintage. I want to re-use and be sustainable as much as possible.’ 
Francesca turned vegan overnight after watching the documentary Cowspiracy and ditched her car in 2019.  
'There are three big things we can do to be more sustainable: how we eat; how we heat our homes by using renewable resources as much as possible; and how we travel by offsetting our travel carbon footprint.’ 
Francesca's experiences have made her the person she is today, and growing up in Reigate sounds idyllic.  
‘We spent a lot of time outdoors and were lucky enough to have a big garden with the River Mole running through so we did a lot of fishing and were always in that environment,’ she says. ‘We have a lot of dogs in the family. Kizzy and Lottie the goldendoodles are my dad’s while Barney the Labrador is my boyfriend’s. We play croquet, eat scones and drink tea a lot and it’s almost always sunny in Surrey. I’ve lived in lots of different places but this is where my family are and where I grew up. I don’t imagine I will ever leave.' 
You can find out more about The Carbon Footprint Co at and H2OSQD Ltd at Follow her on Instagram 

Francesca grew up in Reigate and can't image living anywhere else than Surrey

Francesca grew up in Reigate and can't image living anywhere else than Surrey - Credit: Jack Kennedy

Quick questions 

Local gems. ‘I recommend Sage vegan café in Crawley. There’s a refill shop called New Leaf Zero Waste in Reigate, which is really cool. Hook Road Arena car boot sale in Epsom is where I buy a lot of my clothes.’ 

Next big challenge. ‘I’m taking on the 3 Peaks Challenge [to climb Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Mount Snowdon in under 24 hours] in May. I’m learning Spanish too.’ 

Fun fact. ‘I’m one of seven, with five sisters and one brother,’ she says. ‘I'm probably one of the quietest ones in my family. We’re all very big personalities and clashed quite a lot when we were younger but now it’s the best thing ever and we are really close.’ 

Perfect Surrey weekend. ‘A walk at a National Trust site. Also, I often do the Reigate Priory parkrun on Saturday mornings.’